Just as business for local onion raiser are about to pick up with the onset of the Yuletide season when demand for the staple crop usually increases, the Bureau of Customs (BOC) has again saved the local farmers from a gloomy Christmas when 11 40-footer container vans of illegally imported onions were seized by operatives of the Manila International Container Port’s (MICP) Customs Intelligence and Investigation Service (CIIS).
According to Customs Commissioner Ruffy Biazon, had these 297,000 kgs. of illegally imported onions, with a total market value of Php 35.6 million, been able to get through customs gate, it could have affected the sales and prices of locally produced onions.
“If there is a need for our country to import onions, the Department of Agriculture would say so and issue the necessary import permits. But these attempts to bring into the country illegally imported onions are not intended to fill in a demand or shortage, but simply, to exploit the high demand for the crop during the holidays, to the detriment, of course, of our local onion raisers,” Biazon said.
MICP District Collector Ricardo Belmonte for his part explained that, the eleven 40 footer container vans of onions which were all declared as household wares came from Hong Kong and were consigned to three different importers. Widsets Trading, a company which holds office at Malate Manila was the consignee for two (2) containers. While Royal Halo Enterprises, a Binondo based company was the consignee for five (5) containers and Aldero Enterprises was the consignee for the other four (4) containers.
On the other hand, BOC Deputy Commissioner for Intelligence Group Danilo Lim said, the recent seizure of the 11 containers of illegally imported onions was the result of their increased monitoring and surveillance of movement of agricultural and food products, especially at this time of the year when demand for food usually peak.
We know that the months of November and December are the most active months for smugglers. Thus, we have doubled our efforts in monitoring the movements of cargoes in all BOC ports.”
There were reports that these 11 containers of onions were supposed to be unloaded at the Port of Davao but were diverted to Manila when DepCom Lim’s operatives were at the southern port for a special operation.
At this point, operatives of the MICP-CIIS headed by Chief Marissa Rae Galang, seized the 11 containers after discovering that, contrary to its declaration of household wares, it contained illegally imported onions, instead.
“The seizure of these smuggled onions has only inspired us to be more vigilant, knowing that for every container of illegally imported onion that we seize, several families of local onion raisers are saved from hunger,” Galang said.
The media presentation was witnessed by Mr. Magtanggol Alvarez, President of the Onion Raisers Association of the Philippines and representatives from the Department of Agriculture (DA). Jessil A. Felisario, Public Information & Assistance Division (PIAD), Bureau of Customs